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Space

‘Space nation’ Asgardia names Russian scientist Igor Ashurbeyli as first leader – and he’s shooting for the stars

‘This day will certainly be recorded in the annals of the greatest events in the history of humankind’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 10:26am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 8:12pm

It sounds appealing given the state of politics on Earth: a plan to launch a utopian “space nation” with the aim of transcending earthly divisions.

At a lavish ceremony in Vienna’s Hofburg Palace on Monday, some 200 attendees inaugurated Russian scientist and businessman Igor Ashurbeyli as the first “head of nation” of Asgardia, named after a realm in Norse mythology.

Ashurbeyli has been the driving force behind the concept, announcing the creation of Asgardia two years ago.

According to Ashurbeyli, Asgardia’s citizens already number some 200,000 across the world, drawn by a vision of “space politics” over geopolitics.

The aim is to get the “most creative” members of the human race – which Ashurbeyli estimates at roughly two per cent of the world’s population, or some 150 million people – to sign up.

It also has grandiose ambitions. It wants to build up that population of 150 million within 10 years and plans to set up “space arks” with artificial gravity in outer space where humans could live permanently.

“This day will certainly be recorded in the annals of the greatest events in the history of humankind,” Ashurbeyli said in his inaugural speech.

“We have thus established all branches of government. I can therefore declare with confidence that Asgardia – the first space nation of the united humankind – has been born.”

Space is the only arena left to humanity to escape environmental degradation and a ceaseless arms race, according to Ashurbeyli.

On Earth “your field of vision is limited to your elevation,” whereas space would allow people to have a “three-dimensional picture” of their problems, Ashurbeyli said.

He admits that utopia won’t come cheap. So far he has funded the project with his own money and that of some other private donors. But in the future Asgardians will all be expected to pay an annual “citizenship fee” of 100 (US$117) as well as income and business taxes.

He plans to apply for UN recognition and said Monday he has had “informal contacts” with some countries to form bilateral ties, but that he could not name them.

As to the physical difficulties of putting human beings in space, Ashurbeyli claims he can build on his own scientific experience to enable permanent human settlements on the Moon within 25 years.

Before that, he said he intends to have satellites providing internet access around the globe in five to seven years, and space arks operating in 10 to 15 years.

But for now Asgardia already has a flag, a constitution and an anthem with a “digital currency” to follow soon, the “solar”.

“For this early phase of Asgardian nationhood … I am primarily responsible for its financing, along with a number of other donors who are citizens of Asgardia,” Ashurbeyli said.

Ashurbeyli was officially sworn in by former British MP Lembit Opik, who was made head of Asgardia’s parliament by his fellow MPs on Sunday.

They in turn have been elected by their fellow Asgardians in online polls.

Opik is confident Asgardia can transcend the divisions of Earth-based politics and points to the example of his friendship with Nigel Evans, a current UK lawmaker and now an Asgardian one too.

They may be poles apart when it comes to British politics but they’re both fully on board with the vision for the new space nation.

Additional reporting by Reuters